The most common question? What’s UF?

Written by: Dan Bammes

What’s the Utah Foundation?

I hope you won’t mind a personal observation on the question I’ve been asked most frequently since I joined Utah Foundation a few weeks ago. It is, quite simply, “What’s that?” I’ve had to come up with short and long answers about what Utah Foundation is and what we do.

The short answer:

Utah Foundation is a public policy research group. We study and publish reports on a wide range of topics, including taxes, education funding, transportation, water development and many others. We’re non-partisan. We don’t advocate. Our funding comes mainly from business.

(Here, the elevator comes to a stop and we get out.)

The long answer:

Utah Foundation is a private, non-profit, non-partisan entity that publishes research on many different public policy issues. They start with education and the economy along with taxes and government spending. Our work has also addressed the condition of Utah’s roads, how the state might meet its water needs as its population doubles, why Utah students take longer to graduate from college and what effects Utah’s notorious winter air pollution has on the state’s economy, along with many other questions.

While we’re careful to guard our independence, we have issued recommendations with a few of our reports when that was appropriate.

Who are we?

Utah Foundation has a staff of seven, plus a couple of graduate students who work as paid interns. Our president, Steve Kroes, guides our work along with our research director, Shawn Teigen. We have three more staffers who are research analysts: Mallory Bateman, Christopher Collard and Melissa Proctor. (I often throw in something here about how fiercely smart and amazingly talented these people are.) There’s an administrative assistant, Jordan Stein, and a communications director. That’s me, Dan Bammes. My job is to answer your questions and to make sure the extraordinary work done by my colleagues gets the attention it deserves.

Who tells us what to study?

Our board. The Utah Foundation has a board of more than fifty members, including business leaders, representatives of Utah’s colleges and universities and others from government and the non-profit community. Once a year, we present a research agenda to the board. After some debate, additions and changes are made, a vote is taken and we have our working plan. We also do some paid consulting work for clients such as United Way of Salt Lake and United Way of Treasure Valley in Boise.

Where does our funding come from?

Voluntary subscriptions and contributions from businesses, non-profits, colleges and universities and individual members. Which reminds me – did you know you can become a member of Utah Foundation for just $140? The link to sign up is on our website, That’s also where we acknowledge and thank our contributors.

How long have we been doing this?

Seventy years. Utah Foundation was formed in 1945 and issued its first research report the following year. We’re now up to 727 reports. They come out every few weeks. The next one deals with growth in Utah’s K-12 public school population.

Are we a “think tank?”

I suppose you could say so, since there’s a lot of high-quality thinking that goes on here. Our work product is published research. But I think the thinkers you’re thinking of at other think tanks wear snazzier suits.

Weren’t you on the radio?

Yes. I worked in radio in the Salt Lake City market from 1979 until the first of this year. The last twelve years, I was at KUER, the NPR affiliate radio station at the University of Utah. And yes, I’m that Dan from the Jon & Dan Show on Z-93 many years ago.

The most gratifying part of the job so far has been seeing how highly regarded Utah Foundation’s work has become among business leaders and policy makers in the community. Our reports provide a starting point for many conversations on critical issues, and we plan to continue that work as long as Utah needs dependable answers to important questions.


One Response to “The most common question? What’s UF?”

  1. John Chipman

    Why not study Women employment issues. Utah ranks 41 in the nation for equal pay and for high management positions as compared to other states. Colorado, MN and the NE corridor rank among the highest. 61% of women work in Utah yet they are often underpaid, underappreciated and in fact all too often intimidated by men who feel threatened by a bright, young, professional woman.

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